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Pharmacovigilance: the role of France's regional centres

France's annual "Journées de Pharmacovigilance" conference allows a brief glimpse into reports that healthcare professionals have filed with the country's regional pharmacovigilance centres, and into the contents of the country's pharmacovigilance database. Information that is useful for improving patient care. 

At France's 34th annual "pharmacovigilance days", the country's regional pharmacovigilance centres offered a glimpse into the adverse effects of various medicines used in France:  a source of information that is interesting  for medical practice and for patients.

The 2013 event revealed, most notably:

  • sometimes-fatal adverse effects of drugs for arterial hypotension;
  • the risk of pancreatitis with certain medicines;
  • the many serious adverse effects of the anti-inflammatory etoricoxib;
  • the serious adverse effects of nasal decongestants.

Among other examples, from 1969 to 2011 a team in Angers, France, gathered 17 reports of neuropsychiatric, cardiac or thyroid adverse effects linked to the use of iodoform gauze strips, sometimes used in local treatment of infected wounds or abscesses.

Starting with 41 reports recorded in the national pharmacovigilance database, a Paris team showed that pregabaline (Lyrica°, used for neuropathic pain, generalised anxiety and certain types of epilepsy) caused cardiac disorders, even at low doses.

A team in Grenoble revealed that colchicine (an analgesic used for gout attacks) is sometimes given to patients who are at risk of an overdose.  Out of 1 024 patients studied, 143 (or 14%) suffered an overdose of colchicine, including 3 serious cases where the patients' lives were endangered.

©Prescrire 1 November 2013

Source: "Trente-quatrième journées françaises de pharmacovigilance : les faits marquants 2013" Rev Prescrire 2013 ; 31 (361) : 826-834.